[PHP Vol 1 Issue 1 Jan 2011] | Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. But if you plan ahead, you can stay safe and healthy. During winter, cold is the most common and life taking health problem which mostly affects people living in Upper Mountain and lower Terai areas of Nepal. Life in southern Terai has been hugely affected due to the persistent cold weather and dense fog. Many schools also have been closed in districts of these regions.
Cold is predominantly known as common cold. It refers to upper respiratory infection of the upper respiratory tract, including the nose and throat. There are about 200 different types of viruses that cause cold of which the Rhinovirus is the most common virus. Common cold affects every person but children below five years and elderly person are at higher risk. Hence almost everyone is familiar with the symptoms of common cold such as low-grade fever, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue, sore throat and cough. The cases with these symptoms are mild, and most people recover from it without complications. However, some cases of the common cold can lead to more serious infections and complications like pneumonia, otitis media, acute bronchitis, sinusitis and worsening of asthma. Since the common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help it get better. It is better to take antibiotics only in complicated cases.
The best way to deal with it is to prevent it. Wear warm clothes. Woolen clothes are the best. Avoid exposure to cold. If you have to go outside wear woolen caps, shocks, boots, jackets, gloves, scarf. Get out of driving in cold weather if you can. Otherwise use chest guards, knee caps, gloves, helmets. Use handkerchief while sneezing, drink excess warm water, do exercise, eat vegetables and citrus fruits like orange, lemon, amala, grapes, etc. You can also set fire. Remember! It can be devastating if special attention is not performed. Moreover, cleanse your throat as it moistens a sore throat and bring temporary relief. This process is known as gargling. The best thing to gargle is to use distilled warm water with a teaspoon of salt. Tea with added honey and ginger can also be used as it tightens the membranes. Take a nice steamy shower as it clears up the passages inside. Take a lot of rest since it is another natural remedy. Do not smoke! Smoking weakens the immune system making the person more susceptible to cold.
Special care for neonates and infants
Cold easily affects neonates and infants. No matter. Here is the best and the easiest preventive method. The kangaroo care (skin to skin care) technique. It involves resting the baby on the chest of his/her mother or another care giver, allowing the rhythm of the adult’s breathing to stabilize that of the baby. Several studies have shown kangaroo care prevents hypothermia, cold and early pneumonia. It also improves the breastfeeding ability of the baby; helps maintain proper breathing and sleeping. In addition, infants should always be covered with warm clothes like blanket, woolen caps, shocks, gloves, etc.